Stede Barber’s art is inspired by the invisible spirit in nature and the feeling of being part of something bigger than the everyday self. Her work captures the quiet, fleeting presence of beauty in the light and sounds and forms of the land, trees, and sky. For Stede, painting is a way to connect with the natural world and experience a sense of freedom and aliveness.
The artist’s childhood was spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where she helped her father with big draft horses. She later lived with family in Pennsylvania Dutch country, started school in Buffalo, NY, and went through most of her primary education in Brookline, Massachusetts. Summers were spent on her grandmother’s island paradise in Maine. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Gardener Museums were a trolley ride away when she wasn’t on the Island. But most of the time, you would find the artist out in nature collecting something interesting and exploring.
Stede has a long and varied educational background in the arts. She began her studies in 1976 with a private instructor in oil painting after earning her BA in art and education from the University of Massachusetts in 1973. Her education included a semester traveling through Europe with her camera, sketchbook, and journal, documenting her travels. In 1994, she earned her M.S.S. from Peace Theological Seminary and College of Philosophy. In 1988 she earned her M.A. from the University of Santa Monica and her doctorate in 2018 with a focus on art as an expression of the soul. Throughout her life, she has continued personal studies, learning from nature and books. She has recently taken courses with Scott Christensen, Mary Gilkerson, Emily Jeffords, and Nicholas Wilton.
Stede’s studio is a peaceful and non-toxic space where she can work on her oil paintings. She begins each new painting or collection by spending time outdoors, observing the colors, light, and landscapes that will be the subject of her work. She takes photographs and sketches as she gets to know the place she will be painting and uses these as reference points when she begins working in her studio.
Stede works in layers, starting with a few broad strokes to establish the horizon and major shapes before adding shadows. She then works intuitively around the whole canvas, refining her brushstrokes and adding new details as she goes. She doesn’t rush her work and takes time to step back and consider the painting as a whole before declaring it finished.
The artist’s work has evolved over time, from her early days painting en plein air to her more recent work with layers and shadows. She has also developed a stronger understanding of color and composition, evident in her recent paintings.
Stede’s art is unique in her inspiration from nature and the world around her. She has a deep respect for the natural world and its quiet beauty, which is evident in her work. Barber’s use of color is also refined and delicate, adding a layer of sophistication to her paintings. Her weaving of abstract expressions in landscape art creates a unique and interesting perspective. Finally, with years of experience, Stede has developed a richness and depth in her truly unique work.
Stede is an accomplished artist who has shown her work in several galleries and museums over the years. She has been an Artist in Residence at a private home and studio in Santa Fe, NM, and has had solo shows at the Living Bridges Gallery and the Mirador Gallery, both in Santa Fe. She has also been an Artist in Residence at the Inn at Loretto in Santa Fe, NM, and has shown her work at the Rising Moon gallery in Abiquiu, NM, and Vertu Gallery in Socorro, NM.
Stede aspires to be a living example of someone who values life and generously gives back to the world. As an artist, she feels it is her responsibility to create work that is a true reflection of her gratitude for all the beauty she sees in the world.
View more of Stede Barber’s art on her website at: www.stedebarber.com/